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Kimberley Families

The Leighton Family
as told by son, Tommy

John H. Leighton was born in England and trained as a registered plumber in London. He was married with two children, Tom and Ena, when he decided to try his luck in Canada, in 1907. They lived in the Fort Macleod area for several years before moving to Cranbrook in 1919. By this time their daughter Ena was married and she and her husband moved with them.

Mr. Leighton began working for Patmore Plumbing, while his son, Tommy, and son-in-law got jobs with the C.P.R.

With the expansion in Kimberley in 1923, a registered plumber was needed and they moved to Kimberley. The McDougall Townsite was being developed and inside bathrooms were a necessity rather than a luxury. Outhouses were becoming a thing of the past. Mr. Leighton's two helpers were George Clerf and Charlie McKay. He was later offered the foreman's job, but refused and a Mr. Jack Blezard was brought in as foreman.

Mr. Leighton bought a small shack on Kimberley Avenue, near McKay's Dairy, and enlarged it. They lived there for the next twenty years while he did much of the plumbing for the company. In 1943 they retired to Yahk to where their daughter had moved.

It was in 1925 that their son Tommy was injured while working on a bridge, just below the main Portal of the Mine, near the Rock House. A twelve by twelve timber struck him on the right knee and he spent the next several weeks recuperating with his parents.

On a return trip from a visit to England, Tommy met a widow with a young son and they were married in 1927. Tommy began working for the Company in 1928 at the Concentrator as a laborer. Over the next thirty-seven years he did painting, truck. driving and operating a crane. During the war he was a security guard on the trestle, that linked the Mine and the Concentrator, and at the gateway to the Concentrator.

His step-son, Jack Gillespie, started with the Company but transferred to Trail for a short time before joining the Army. He met his future wife in Niagara Falls while training near there. He saw action in Italy and Holland and returned to Kimberley after his marriage. A short two years later they returned to Niagara Falls after it was discovered his wife could not live at this altitude. They have two adopted sons.

Sarah and John Leighton

Tommy had one daughter, Mae, who was born at home. Mrs. Gough was the mid-wife and Dr. Davis attended. Her mother passed away in 1944when Mae was just a teenager.

They lived in a small house built by Mr. Soderholm on one corner of his property when houses were at a premium. It had been built over the small creek running through town, Kimberley Creek. This was fine until the flood of 1948, when over one hundred buildings were destroyed by the rampaging waters. With the creek running six inches deep over the floors, the furniture was moved to a garage a couple of blocks away on higher ground.

Tommy and his daughter boarded with the Siple family. It was their garage the furniture was in. Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Siple had two daughters a little younger than Mae. The Siple house was owned by the John Dickson family, and as Mr. and Mrs. Dickson had recently passed away, the two daughters, Olive Musser and Ruth O'Neill, decided to sell it. A move was in order, and Tommy Leighton and Ernie Siple purchased adjacent lots in Marysville, where a new section of land had just been opened for expansion.

Both men built double garages and lived in them until their homes were completed. Tommy's father had passed away so his mother came to keep house for him.

In 1955, Ernie Siple died very suddenly of a brain hemorrhage leaving his wife, Grace, and two young daughters with a heavy mortgage on the new home. Grace was a telephone operator, so continued to work. In the fall of that year the Kimberley telephone office was phased out when the dial system was installed. This meant a transfer to Cranbrook. She worked as a night operator for eleven years, driving the fourteen miles daily. Tommy and Grace were married in 1956.Tommy retired from the Company in 1965 and Grace quit work at the same time.

Tommy's daughter, Mae, married Pete Haverko, an assayer at the Concentrator. They have four children: Jacquie, Tommy, Jerry and Patti. Jacquie married Doug Johnson, an apprentice electrician at the Fertilizer Plant. They have one son Ben. Tommy works at Canal Flats for Crestbrook Industries as a machine operator. He has two daughters, Colleen and Candice. He lives in Kimberley and drives to work daily. Jerry lives in Trail where he is employed by the Company there. He has three children: Johnny, Michael and Tina. Patti married Bill Johnson of Riondel. He is taking an apprenticeship as a heavy duty mechanic for the Company at the Mine, in Kimberley. They have a daughter, Jessie Leigh.

Grace's two daughters, Judi and Linda, are both married. Linda has three children: Melody, Dean and Lola Boyles. Judi is Mrs. Lorne Weston and has one daughter, Delane. Both reside in Marysville.

Tommy and Grace both keep active in Community work. Tommy is tour guide for visiting Senior Citizens on tours and is a member of the Bavarian Society. He was the Fire Chief of Marysville for ten years. Grace has been President of the Senior Citizens for three years. She was active in the Hospital Auxiliary as president of the Marysville group and she was area Representative for three years and Recording Secretary for the Provincial Hospital Association Auxilliaries Division for three years. After 30years as a telephone operator, Grace is a Life Member of Telephone Pioneers. Both Grace and Tommy are on the executive of the East Kootenay Historical Society. At present Grace is writing the personal stories of the long time residents of Kimberley for this book.

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